History Tonger

History Tonger

About us

On 1.07.1822 Augustin Josef Tonger established, within his antiques business, a sheet music and books shop. The secularization of monasteries and churches that took place a few years earlier with Napoleon, brought to market an appreciable quantity of printed music and books. The address of the rented building was Am Hoff 33, just facing the cathedral of Cologne.

His son, Peter-Josef Tonger, adopted this branch from the beginning with enthusiasm and built across the road, Am Hoff 34-36, an apartment house for the music shop and run the music business independently. Through the creation of the publishing company (oldest edition dates from 1835), the instrument shop and the instrument construction workshop, the TONGER company grew in significance. As a consequence, Augustin's grandson, Peter-Josef, bought the property next door in 1909 and built the extension of the shop Am Hof 30-36 (see picture). This building was completely destroyed in 1944 as a result of the bombings during World War II.

In the different phases of its history, TONGER had to overcome both World Wars and the economic crises of the time. Despite these problems, TONGER managed to constantly gain competence and recognition. During its early period, among other things, TONGER was to publish the first German music journal in 1886, to be the official music provider of the court of the emperor Wilhelm II for more than 20 years, to collect and publish a thorough compilation of songs and folklore from Rheinland, and always brought to their costumers the most recent publications of the music branch. TONGER was also member of the founders and patrons of the Kölner Hochschule für Musik (today the Cologne University of Music) and the Rheinischen Musikschule in Köln.

As the production units were also destroyed with the buildings during the war, in 1951 Haus TONGER split into the music shop and the publishing company. The latter was relocated to Rodenkirchen and the former occupied a new place at the Dom-Hotel, again staying Am Hof near the cathedral.

The fourth generation undertook the reconstruction energetically and with ingenuity, as it was then common, but also necessary. In 1972, Lutz Wentscher - the son of Hedwig Tonger - took over the managing role. By this time TONGER was again selling sheet music, instruments, records, and despite the growing number of new music shops in Cologne, it was able to re-establish its good reputation.

In 1999, after the close-down of Braun Peretti, Pianohaus TONGER in Bonn was enlarged to a three storey division in the city centre of Bonn, not far away from the birthplace of Beethoven. This shop contains two repair-workshops and to this day provides a full range of sheet music, music material and support for the citizens of Bonn.  

In 2003, due to growing demand, TONGER initiated a new division to ship goods all over the world. In 2015, Thomas Giehl took over the role of management and all the divisions of TONGER in Cologne were concentrated into a single storey building at Zeughausstrasse 24 in front of the Roman Tower of Cologne.

Today TONGER works with more than 700 music publishing houses and more that 2000 manufacturers of instruments and media groups. Our strong point is giving good personalized advice on music products of all sorts, and we face the Internet and the Mobile world with great enthusiasm and expectation.

Due to the privileged history of Cologne and Bonn and their present lively musical activity, TONGER is a regular visit of world renowned composers, conductors and musicians. Herbert von Karajan, Aram Khachaturian, Astor Piazzolla and many others gave us the honour of their visit. We are pleased to welcome you to be also part of this culture.